Berlin is located in its own state in the North East section of Germany. Coordinates: Longitude 13:25 E, latitude 52:32 N. Berlin is 34 m above sea level.
Berlin is the largest city in Germany, with around 3.5 million people.
Three airports serve Berlin: Berlin Brandenberg Airport in Schoenefeld, Berlin International Airport in Tegal, and Berlin Brandenberg International (BBI), the newest airport, will open soon (planned date, March 2012).
There are three tourist offices in Berlin, the main one located in the Europa center (Zoo Station). Other locations are the south wing of the Brandenburg Gate and at the base of the TV tower at Alexanderplatz. There are also information posts at the airports. At the centers you can make hotel reservations, buy discount cards, get a map of Berlin, and arrange tours of the city and environs.
Berlin Train Stations
Berlin has two main train stations: Zoologischer Garten and Ostbahnhof (where most high-speed trains dock in Berlin), plus four other stations in Lichtenberg, Spandau, Wannsee and Schönefeld. All train-stations are connected to other forms of public transport. The Zoologischer Garten station is near the Europa Center, where you'll find the main tourist office referenced above.
Train Resources: German Rail Passes.
Weather and Climate - When to go
Summer temperatures are quite pleasant; daily temperatures range from 22-23 °C (72°F) but can go up to around 30°C (86°F). Winter highs are around 35°F. So, summer is the obvious choice, but Berlin is a cultural wonderland, so winter can be interesting as well. There are quite a few Christmas markets in Berlin, and New Years is a big deal at the Brandenburg Gate. For Berlin Weather.
Berlin Discount Cards
The Berlin Welcome Card provides travel on all buses and trains within the A, B, and C fare zones in Berlin for one adult and up to three children below the age of fourteen for either 48 hours or 72 hours (see prices). Other discount tickets are also provided in a ticket book. Available at Tourist Info Centers, many hotels, and the S-Bahn offices.
Tourist Info Centers offer a 50% Ticket-Special for selected events on the day of the performance.
Berlin has one of Europe's premier public transportation systems, featuring S-Bahn and U-Bahn train lines (S-Suburban, U-Urban), buses, and East Berlin Trams. You can buy tickets at vending machines at the station. You must validate the ticket before you use it in the red or yellow machines--the fine for unvalidated or no ticket is 40 Euros. A Tageskarte or Day Ticket costs 5.80 Euros and allows unlimited travel on all systems till 3 in the morning.
Look for bohemian style crafty items, rather than designer goods in Berlin. The Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzienstraße are highly touted shopping areas. Visit Berlin lists a number of other shopping areas.
Where to Stay
Berlin lodging is relatively inexpensive, considering the size of the city and its stature in the travel community. Find user-rated hotels in Berlin on Venere (book direct).
You might also find the apartment or house option more to your liking. HomeAway lists over 800 of such lodging options: Berlin Vacation Rentals (book direct).
Students and folks looking for extreme budget lodging might try a search on Hostelworld.
Berlin's Top Attractions
What do you think of first when you think of Berlin? The wall? Well, it's mosly gone. You can see a standing bit of the it on Niederkirchnerstrasse, next to the "Topography of Terror" exhibition center. You'll also want to see the Berlin Wall Museum.
Berlin is huge. Make sure you have a good map, some are always available from the tourist office. If you have an iOS or Android device with you, the Berlin Tourist Office offers a free app called Going local Berlin that will guide you along.
Zoologischer Garten - Zoological Gardens were opened in 1844 and are Germany's oldest and the world's largest. The Berlin Aquarium is adjacent. Hardenbergplatz 8, western downtown.
Brandenburger Tor - The Brandenburg Gate is the symbol of Berlin and the last remaining big piece of the Berlin wall system.
Museumsinsel - Museum Island fits between the rivers Spree and Kupfergraben. Museums on Museum Island include The National Gallery, The Old Museum (Altes Museum), The Pergamon Museum and The Bode Museum. The Pergamonmuseum is a must--and it's immense. You may need two days here. Mitte district. Find out about exhibitions in Berlin museums here.
The Tiergarten - Berlin's green heart is good for a walk. The 630 acre urban park began as a royal hunting reserve but landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenne thankfully transformed it into a beautiful city park in 1742.
The Reichstag - now home to Parliament once again after the torching of the building by a Dutch Communist in 1933 became the handy excuse that lead to handing Hitler dictatorial powers. The 1999 restoration added a glass dome that's become one of Berlin's main attractions as a view spot. Visit early in the morning to avoid the inevitable long lines, especially in summer.
A Note about Museums: German State Museums are generally a bargain for world-class exhibitions, costing from 6-8 Euros, and free on the four hours before closing on Thursday. A three-day museum ticket is also available; inquire at your first museum entrance. Berlin offers a very nice Museumsportal.
Of course, Berlin has a huge cultural scene. Modern art, cabaret and variety shows and one of the world's best philharmonic orchestras are all part of the nightlife. And no closing hours means you can sit at your favorite watering hole for well into the morning. And, for a landlocked city, there are plenty of beaches to check out.
Check out Berlin's Best Free Sites from About.com's Germany Expert.
Coach Tours and Day Trips
One of the top rated Berlin coach tours on Viator is the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Walking Tour. The six hour tour includes three hours in the camp.
Viator offers everything from city walking or Segway tours to concerts and more. See Berlin Tours and Day Trips (book direct).
Plan a Trip to Berlin, Germany: The Travel Planning Toolbox
Need a good map? You can, of course, get one at your hotel or at the tourist bureau. If you like to have a map in your hand when you arrive at a destination but don't like folding maps--see our list of Crumpled City Maps--there's one for Berlin.
Learn German - It's always a good idea to learn some of the local language in the places you're going, especially the "polite" expressions and a few words pertaining to food and drink.
If you have an iOS device like iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, you might like to be guided by a local. See Jeremy Gray's Berlin Essential Guide.
German Rail Passes - You can save money on longer rail journeys, but Railpasses aren't guaranteed to save you money, you'll have to plan your trip to use the pass on longer journeys, and pay in cash (or by credit card) for the short runs. Many night trains originate in Germany, so you might want to check one out as you leave Berlin and want to save the cost of a hotel that night.
Rent or Lease a Car? If you're going to Germany for three weeks or more, leasing may make more sense.
How Big is Europe? - Taking your own Grand Tour? How big is Europe compared to the US? Here's a map that shows you.
Driving Distances in Germany - Distances between the major cities in Germany.